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A serial killer has been viciously murdering women in the Combat Zone, a seedy area of Newford. He makes a mistake when he kills a wealthy man’s daughter, apparently mistaking her for one of the prostitutes he normally targets. There’s a witness to this one too. He swears the killer stepped out of the side of a building and disappeared the same way.
Detective Thomas Morningstar has mostly left his Kickaha traditions behind on the rez. But something about these killers doesn’t feel right, so he seeks help in the most unexpected of places.
And then there’s Chelsea, a teen who’s already experienced a lifetime of hurt. She’s been told that her abusive father is dead, but she can still feel him out there. Searching for her. And she knows this time he won’t stop until she’s dead.
This is a re-read, and I wrote in my initial one-sentence summary, “This is too dark for me.” I’m re-reading the Newford books in order, and it was time for this one. It’s still too dark for me. I do like horror, but this is a little too real. The so-called “horror” element doesn’t feel real, but the abuse is the true horror. It’s nothing gratuitous, but it is more graphic than I would like. Being inside the mind of a pedophile left me feeling dirty and more than a little disturbed. It’s hard for me to read that kind of thing at any time, but especially when it involves children.
I miss that none of the Newford regulars showed up in this book. Part of what I love about the Newford books is spotting some of my favorite characters and finding out how they’re doing. I know that sounds crazy, but after multiple re-reads of my favorites across 20+ books and at least 15 years, they really are old friends.
There are still some of de Lint’s trademarks present here though. His good characters genuinely care about other people and try to help where they can. They step out on faith and work through bizarre happenings the best way they know how. I like the way different…spiritual? yes, probably the best word…traditions come together for the common good. And there are the characters who don’t let the crappy hand they were dealt in their early years hold them back forever.
Sitting here, really thinking about it, that is probably the point of the book. People live worse things than this every day. I guess de Lint wanted to write about that darkness and point out that where there is darkness, there is always light if we just look for it.
I would not recommend this as an introduction to de Lint, but fans should pick it up as long as they think they can handle it. It does get awfully disturbing in between these pages.
Read an excerpt.
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